PIERRE Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Tuesday appointed Circuit Judge Lori S. Wilbur of Pierre to the South Dakota Supreme Court.
Wilbur, 58, becomes the second female justice on the states highest court. She replaces Justice Judith Meierhenry, the first woman on the Supreme Court, who retired in June.
Lori Wilbur will be a phenomenal Supreme Court justice, Daugaard said in a written statement. She is well-respected for intellect, her calm demeanor and her quiet commitment to a fair and open judiciary. Every person I consulted spoke in the very highest terms about Judge Wilbur.
Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson planned to swear Wilbur into office as a justice during a ceremony late Tuesday afternoon at the University of South Dakota Law School in Vermillion.
Wilbur received her law degree from USD in 1977. She was an assistant state attorney general and a lawyer for the South Dakota Board of Regents, the Legislature and the state Bureau of Personnel. She became a magistrate judge in 1992 and took the bench as a circuit judge in 1999 after winning an election in 1998. Since 2007 she has been presiding judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit, which covers 14 counties in central and south-central South Dakota.
Wilbur will represent the 4th Supreme Court District, which covers 17 counties in southeastern South Dakota. She is moving to that district, which will allow her to live closer to her mother and two daughters. Wilbur said she has rented an apartment in Lincoln County and registered to vote there, complying with legal requirements that she live in the Supreme Court district she represents.
Wilbur praised Meierhenry as a trailblazer with wisdom and experience.
I hope I can do half as good a job as Justice Meierhenry, Wilbur told The Associated Press.
Wilbur said she loved working as a circuit judge and hadnt thought much about moving to the Supreme Court until some people encouraged her to consider it. She said she was humbled that the governor chose her from a pool of candidates who applied for the appointment.
Each of us brings to our work, whatever that work is, our lifetime of experience and our values. In my experience, the people of this state expect courteous and prompt resolution of their disputes by judges and justices who apply the law fairly and impartially, Wilbur said.
Daugaard said he was struck by a comment Wilbur made when he interviewed her for the appointment.
When I asked her why she would be a good justice, she told me that she lives by the same three rules that she asks her DUI defendants to follow: Show up, try hard and be honest. That is a simple and eloquent statement of the values that make South Dakota great, the governor said.
Wilbur said she will continue to follow those three rules.
I plan to be dedicated and work hard at this job because its an awesome responsibility to the citizens of this state, she said.